Clownfish – Nemo and his many cousins – how many can you recognise?

Blue anemone with true clownfish diving the funnel in the russell islands aboard mv taka solomon islands diveplanit banner

Here’s a small sample of some of Nemo’s cousins – and for convenience I’m going to refer to them as Clownfish because, truth be told, I still have trouble with an…anem..ammm…enermyfish! And also, they’re all he’s, because if you want to get into the detail of the transgender specifics of anemonefish – well that’s a-whole-nother blog post!

True Clown clownfish (Amphiprion percula)

First up is Nemo himself: dressed in the classic Nemo and Marlin colours: white bands with black margins, and classic Nemo and Marlin behaviour with respect to the anemone – cautiously out, quick look … and back again, cautiously out, quick look … and back again, and so on… and so on …

True Clownfish anemonefish diving Leru Cut in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 0959

False Clown clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

Next up, very similar to the True Clown, but without the black margins on the white bands, though still some black around the tail. Supposed to stick to the East Indo Asian Pacific whereas the true Nemo is more West Pacific. Maybe he was just visiting?

False clown Clownfish anemonefish diving Ghuvatu Wharf Reef aboard MV Taka in Florida Islands Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 7466

Clark’s clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii)

Probably the most populous of the Amphiprion clan, certainly one of the more defensive. Dressed in almost aggressive colours: very dark with thick, bold stripes, and yellow tail (caudal fin), he’s a kinda “come and ‘ave a go if you think you’re hard enough” Clown.

Clarks Clownfish anemonefish diving Leru Cut in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 0986

Red and Black clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus)

Definitely more red than orange, and distinguishable from the Clark’s by the fact that he only has one stripe. Also, check out the anemone nearby – these guys prefer bulb anemones.

Red and Black Clownfish anemonefish above coral diving North East Mane Bay in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 8430

Orange Finned clownfish (Amphiprion chrysopterus)

Not sure why whoever named this one picked Orange Fins as a distinguishing feature – practically every Clownfish has orange fins! Not dissimilar from the Clark’s, but different enough: note the white tail and the thinner second stripe.

Orange Finned Clownfish anemonefish diving Batcave in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 1075

Orange clownfish (Amphiprion sandaracinos)

A single white stripe that extends from the top lip all the way to the tail. Very similar to the more aptly name Skunk (found eastwards of Bali), and the Pacific (found westwards of Fiji). This is the guy in the middle.

Orange Clownfish anemonefish diving Karumolun Point in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 0606

Pink clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion)

Similar to sandaracinos, and often not any shade of pink, but in addition to single thin white stripe that extends from the forehead to the tail, the Pink has a white bar behind the eye. Another small and quite shy cousin.

Pink Clownfish anemonefish diving Switzer in the Florida Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 0085

White Bonnet clownfish (Amphiprion leucokranos)

The only member of the Amphiprion family that belongs to the local surf lifesavers club. Never seen without his white bonnet, always on the lookout for grommet clowns who are out of their depth.

White Bonnet Clownfish Anemonefish diving Mane Bay in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 0700

Spinecheek Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus)

Though the spinecheeks also live in anemones – bulb anemones to be exact – they are more like second-cousins. Often there’ll be a big female up to 16 cm who’ll come charging at you, whilst the meek little male, half her size, hides shyly – very clear who wears the pants in that anemone! Both have three white bands, and the female can be anything from scarlet to such a dark red it’s black.

Spinecheek Clownfish anemonefish diving Ghuvatu Wharf Reef aboard MV Taka in Florida Islands Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 9319

White Cheeked clownfish (Amphiprion cheekiblanci)

I reckon this is just some cheeky little variant of the False Clown. And actually, real clowns paint red spots on the cheeks of their white faces. So go figure that one.

White Cheeky Clownfish anemonefish diving Kau Kau in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 8730

This shot is most remarkable for the colour of the anemone rather than the Clowns who live there. Just a reminder that everyone comes in different colours and creeds, and really all most of us want, is to be treated as an equal and left in peace to get on with our lives.

Blue anemone with True Clownfish diving The Funnel in the Russell Islands aboard MV Taka Solomon Islands Diveplanit Blog 8241

The pictures of all these clownfish where taken on a single week long liveaboard trip on the MV Taka, run by SIDE on a trip through the Florida and Russell Islands in the fabulous Solomon Islands.

If you want a taster of what that trip might be like – watch our little video.

As a reference for this article, and indeed generally, Diveplanit refers to the excellent books in the series Reef Fish Identification. In this case, Tropical Pacific. ISBN: 978-1-878348-36-4.

Alternately, if you don’t like to carry a 1 kg of book in your already heavy dive luggage, you could download the Diveplanit App and just use the Fish Id in there. It’s free – so you’ve got nothing to lose.

If you liked this post, you might also like ‘Where to find the best manta ray encounters‘.